The Jamestown Area YMCA had a very special guest at its annual meeting on Thursday.
Wess Audsley, vice president of association resources for YMCA of the USA came from Willmette, Ill. to visit Jamestown, and had only the highest praise for the city and its YMCA.
"I used to be the CEO of the YMCA in Batavia," said Audsley. "I've known Mark Eckendorf for 20 years, so when he asked me if I would speak at the annual dinner, of course I said yes. It's a chance to see Jamestown in May, which is beautiful, and it was a chance to spend the afternoon touring the different YMCA branches in Jamestown."
Wess Audsley complimented Jamestown area YMCAs for their commitment to charitable causes and community outreach.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
Although Audsley has visited countless YMCAs around the country, he couldn't help but laud the work that the Jamestown area YMCA employees, as well as the members of the YMCA, were doing.
"I want to talk about all the good work that the employees and members of the local YMCAs are doing, and how it compares favorably to YMCAs around the county," said Audsley. "The YMCA is a nonprofit organization, and sometimes people associate us with gym and swim, and don't realize the charitable focus that we have. A YMCA should have deep ties into the community it is in, and I believe that's exactly what happens here in Jamestown."
According to Audsley, the YMCA's mission is to strengthen the community it exists in through three areas of focus: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
"One of the signature programs that defines the YMCA (in youth development) is called the achievement gap," said Audsley. "We strive to keep young people engaged over the summer so learning loss doesn't occur. The Jamestown YMCA is doing great things with that - they have a benchmark after school program, they are a 21st century learning grant recipient and they are also a universal pre-K recipient here in town. The Jamestown YMCA is doing everything that we want it to do."
PRESENTATION OF AWARDS
At the YMCA's annual meeting, several awards are given in recognition of outstanding achievement in specific fields. While those presenting the awards usually attempt to do so in a manner that honors the recipient and entertains the crowd, extra effort was taken this year to keep the crowd entertained. Jokes, stories and even props were used, and Master of Ceremonies Michael Johnson was even willing to wear a fake horse's head for a laugh.
Before the awards were presented, guests were entertained by John Cross and the Infinity Big Band while they enjoyed a catered dinner provided by Mariner's Pier Express and Catering.
Following dinner and entertainment, the awards were presented. This year's awards and winners were: The Bill Myott Board Member of the Year - Fred Baker; the Outstanding Teen awards - Luis Castro, Rachel Mole, Austin Storms and Michael Quigley; the Volunteer of the Year award - Charles "Chip" Swanson; Partner with Youth award - Jamestown City School District; Coach of the Year awards - Haley Bator, Katie Clark and Megan Tomassini; Childcare Worker of the Year - Beth Strong; Employee of the Year - Maria P. Roehmholdt; Family of the Year - Lisa, Michael, Matthew, Morgan, Mikala and Dr. Michael Johnson; Executive Director's Award - Meg Pickard; Red Triangle Award - BlueCross and BlueShield of Western New York; YMCA Camp Onyasha Alumni Hall of Fame - Daniel R. Bracey; and the Paul B. Sullivan Lifetime Service Award - Jonathan O'Brian.
"This is special for me to give this out," said Eckendorf, who presented O'Brian with the Paul B. Sullivan Lifetime Service Award. "We never give this award out to an employee, but this person truly deserves it."